Title: Bringer of Darkness
Author: nostalgia
Rating: PG
Categories: Bit angsty, vaguely slashy if you choose to read it that way.
Summary: Anakin stays up all night.
Disclaima-go-go: Lucasfilm own the Jedi and all their little friends.
Homepage: All this confusion and more can be found at http://www.angelfire.com/scifi/monkeychild/nostalgia/index.htm
Feedback/Archive: Ask and ye shall receive.

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On Tattoine the night is shorter. The binary stars that steal the moisture from the planet steal the darkness as well, a single sun hanging lonely in the sky after its twin has sunk beneath the impossibly flat horizon. In the narrow band of darkness astronomy will allow, come the stars. Thousands of them, and so many with planets in their care. Anakin, at nine, had imagined these planets dust-bowls like his own world, he thought of people cooked and boiled by the daylight, scavenging for water.

Anakin had always burned easily, too fair for Tatooine. His mother made him stay indoors while the suns were out. Between the dawns and after the first sunset she let him venture outside without the ointments that made his skin tingle, without long sleeves to save his skin and get in the way. This was his time.

The warmth left quickly when the suns were finally set, a chill to be savoured and feared. He would wrap himself deeper into the blankets and listen to the Tuskens and banthas and the ships that left Mos Espa throughout the night. He grew used to night on Tatooine.

But Coruscant... night on Coruscant was no mere inconvenience. At night Anakin came into his own. He seemed to wake up when the sun went down, a second burst of energy to focus his mind. Obi-Wan had taught him the tricks the Jedi could use in place of sleep, and Anakin had taken them and twisted them and played with them and produced something new and wonderful of his own. Night became his playground as much as the day, because he was the Chosen One and he was Balance.

Day was warmer and regimented and it made him feel like he belonged. Eat, meditate, train, read, eat, meditate, duel, run, eat, meditate, talk, night. Daytime was purpose and peace and perfection. Daytime was Obi-Wan.

And then the sun would set and everything would change. Anakin, because he was the Chosen One and he was Balance, adored the differences caused simply by the planet rotating on its axis. Night was no quieter than the day, but it was silent in its own ways. At night the traffic still buzzed across the air, but in his own mind Anakin felt a stillness form as the other Jedi fell one by one asleep. It was soothing to feel the calm descend upon the Temple, serenity itself. It scared him a little when Obi-Wan drifted off, because Anakin always worried that his Master would never wake and that the balance would be lost.

Obi-Wan didn't always sleep. This was worse.

Earlier, when the night was warmer, he had heard the hiss of a door and the gentle pad of feet across wood. Anakin had been in bed, reading about speed instead of spices, and he had frozen at the sound. He wasn't supposed to be awake, he knew, and he had guilty switched off the light and pulled the covers over his head, hiding his reading under the pillow with panicked haste. He heard the door and the lightswitch, saw the red of the light through his eyelids. A sigh. Black, click, hiss. It had been close. He stared up at the ceiling, listening for his mentor. The sound of a door unlocking and sliding open came from the wrong direction, and he felt the newer, deeper silence of being alone. Obi-Wan, when finally Anakin built up the courage to check, was nowhere to be found.

It was possible, of course. They didn't lock you in. Obi-Wan was free to come and go as he pleased. Anakin had done it himself a few times, once or twice he had even left the Temple. They asked when they saw the braid, but Anakin explained that he had permission from his Master and that was that. No one ever checked, because it was inconceiveble that an Apprentice would lie.

But Obi-Wan was gone. Anakin was confused, then scared, then annoyed. But finally, as the hours passed, he came to accept this new isolation. This was the night, and night was there for the lonely. It was freedom. So he sat and read and practiced a little with his lightsaber and waited for his Master to return. He could ask about it in the morning, he could say a nightmare woke him. Yes, that would be perfect. He grinned, pleased by his own ingenuity.

He opened his window as wide as it would go and leaned out into the night. Above him the clouds reflected an orange glow back onto Coruscant - the never-night of the city. Even without the cloud- cover, there were no stars on Coruscant. Anakin missed the stars - one of the reasons he loved flying in space so much. He could ignore the cold if he could gaze out at the stars. Millions and millions of them. And Obi-Wan would name them and point to the ones he had visited and promise that one day Anakin would see them too. Anakin decided that he would have an Apprentice of his own when he was a Knight and he would point to the stars and the Apprentice would love him. He was the Chosen One, and he was Balance.

He breathed in, the air cold as it hit his lungs. It made him gasp. The night didn't ask questions and it didn't watch you all the time. If the night had Obi-Wan it would be perfect. But Obi-Wan belonged to the daytime and so Anakin needed them both and he had to close the window and go to sleep so that he would be alert enough to make Obi- Wan laugh while they ate breakfast. Anakin had a list of jokes that he had heard, written down and hidden under his bed. He brought them out, one by one, to see his Master smile.

He read a few before he went to sleep, so that he would remember them in the morning.


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